– Submitted by Kathleen Florio

 This recipe for Neapolitans has been part of my cookie repertoire for more than two decades. Cookies are in my DNA. My mom was an expert baker, and she started a family tradition in the 1960s, when she challenged herself to make a wider-than-usual assortment of Christmas cookies. She made 32 different kinds, which she displayed in glass cookie jars—ideal for showing off the colorful Neapolitans and other varieties–along the full length of our L-shaped kitchen counter. 

My dad strung little Christmas lights on the cabinets to add to the festivity, and visiting relatives and friends were awestruck—and more than willing to dig in and pick a favorite. The Neapolitans are a crowd-pleaser. 

Chocoholic? The dark half will appeal to your taste buds. Dried-fruit fan? Enjoy the light half, studded with grated orange peel and dried cranberries. Nonpartisan cookie lover? Munch happily the whole way through. Once I had my own kitchen, I continued the tradition of a holiday baking extravaganza, and cookies became as important to the season as presents, decorations, and Christmas carols. Amidst the sprawl of ingredients and baking utensils, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the prospect of churning out hundreds of cookies. But inspiration is nearby: one of my mom’s cookie jars sits on a shelf in my kitchen, more precious to me than any other family heirloom.



Layer two doughs to create this slice-and-bake cookie

Chocolate Walnut Dough

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup cocoa powder

½ tablespoon espresso powder*

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1. Combine flour, cocoa, espresso powder; set aside.

2. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy–3−4 minutes.

3. Continue mixing, adding flour mixture a little at a time, until thoroughly combined.

4. Stir in walnuts.

If not using immediately, wrap dough in plastic and store in refrigerator until ready to assemble.**

Cranberry-Orange Dough

1 ¼ cups whole or slivered blanched almonds

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons grated orange zest (from 2−3 oranges)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped


1. Process almonds and powdered sugar in food processor until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and orange zest until light and fluffy (2−3 minutes).

3. On low speed, add almond mixture and mix until combined.

4. Add egg and lemon juice and mix until combined.

5. Gradually add flour and mix until combined.

6. Stir in dried cranberries.

If not using immediately, wrap dough in plastic and store in refrigerator until ready to assemble.**

Assembly and baking

** Both doughs should be at room temperature for assembly.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread the chocolate dough evenly on the bottom of an 8” X 8” baking pan or two loaf pans lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Spread cranberry-orange dough evenly on top of chocolate dough. Refrigerate until dough is firm enough to slice. (NOTE: If using loaf pans, anything close to 4” X 8” is fine. Precise dimensions aren’t critical to the final product.)

3. Turn chilled dough out of pan and cut into slabs about 2” by 8”. Slice each slab into cookies about 1/4” thick. (If you use loaf pans with sloped sides, trim the slabs so that the sides are straight before slicing.)

4. Bake on parchment-lined cookie sheets until firm to the touch–12-13 minutes. Watch carefully so edges of light half don’t brown on top; bottoms should be golden brown. Let cool for a minute before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely.

*QFC and other supermarkets carry Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso.

These cookies freeze well. You can keep slabs in the freezer until ready to bake; or bake ahead and freeze the completed cookies.

Julia Baker